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Karen Buhler-Wilkerson papers


Held at: University of Pennsylvania: University Archives and Records Center [Contact Us]3401 Market Street, Suite 210, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: University Archives and Records Center. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

Karen Buhler-Wilkerson (1944-2010) was a Registered Nurse, a Professor of Community Health, Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing, historian, author, and the co-creator of the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing's Living Independently for Elders program (LIFE). She was born in Philadelphia in 1944, but grew up in Georgia and South Carolina. She received BSN and MN degrees from Emory University in 1966 and 1969 respectively, and a Ph.D. of Health Care History and Policy in 1984 from the University of Pennsylvania.

Buhler-Wilkerson joined the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania in 1972 where she taught home care nursing and health care history for over 30 years. In 1995 she became Director of the Barbara Bates Center for the Study of the History of Nursing, which she held until 2006. In 2005, Buhler-Wilkerson was a recipient of Penn's Lindback Distinguished Teaching Award. She published 40 articles and 3 books, twice winning the Lavinia L. Dock Award from the American Association for the History of Nursing. First, in 1989 for her article in the American Journal of Public Health, titled, "Public Health Nursing: In Sickness or in Health?" and then in 2001 for her book, No Place Like Home: A History of Nursing and Home Care in the United States. She curated two exhibitions on the visualization of nursing, the first in 2000 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art that explored how nursing was depicted in various art forms, and the second in 2003 at Philadelphia's Fabric Workshop on the history of the nurses' uniform.

In 1998, Karen Buhler-Wilkerson and Mary Naylor created Penn Nursing's Living Independently for Elders program (LIFE), which provided comprehensive daily care to hundreds of poor and vulnerable West Philadelphia residents, which allowed them to continue living independently at home. In 2009, Buhler-Wilkerson remarked that, "This is such an un-American approach to care, which remains so fragmented in the United States, but we made it our job to demonstrate that we could save money and keep people at home."

Karen Buhler-Wilkerson died February 13, 2010.


This collection documents the academic work of Karen Buhler-Wilkerson, a former faculty member of the University of Pennsylvania's School of Nursing. The collection is categorized into the three general series of teaching, programs, and the School of Nursing, which are detailed below.

Series I. School of Nursing records

This series contains records from Karen Buhler-Wilkerson's activities within the School of Nursing, outside of her teaching. This includes participation on several committees, correspondence related to various topics of routine department business, and department plans and reports. Some material in this series is restricted. Arranged alphabetically.

Series II. Programs

This series contains presentations, reports, and other documentation from two related programs: LIFE or Living Independently for Elders, and PACE or Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly.

Series III. Teaching records

This series contains material related to Karen Buhler-Wilkerson activities as a teacher, which is broken into three sub-series. Access to some student records is restricted.

Subseries A. Courses

This subseries consists primarily of course syllabi and other materials, including correspondence, sample exams, and presentations. Arranged chronologically.

Subseries B. Lectures

This subseries contains transcripts, notes, slides, and other materials from lectures and other talks given by Karen Buhler-Wilkerson. It's mostly unclear specifically where or when these talks were given, but they appear to be for an academic or professional medical audience. Some topics are repeated, particularly on home care, but each appears to be a distinct lecture or talk. Arranged chronologically.

Subseries C. Research materials

This subseries contains various materials related to Karen Buhler-Wilkerson's research, particularly on home care. These include her own notes and collected secondary sources, such as clippings, reports, articles, and other materials primarily on home care topics. Arranged chronologically.

Series I. School of Nursing records

Series II. Programs

Series III. Teaching records

Subseries A. Courses

Subseries B. Lectures

Subseries C. Research materials

Gift of Karen Buhler-Wilkerson, July 28, 2006 (Accession Number 2006:065).

University of Pennsylvania: University Archives and Records Center
Finding Aid Author
Kenneth Cleary
Finding Aid Date
January 8, 2024
Access Restrictions

Access to collections is granted in accordance with the Protocols for the University Archives and Records Center. Portions of this collection may be closed.

Use of the videocassette in Box 2, Folder 16 is restricted from use. If the original does not already have a copy, it may be sent to an outside vendor for copying. Patrons are financially responsible for the cost. The turnaround time from request to delivery of digital items will depend on the nature of the material and is subject to review for condition. Please contact the University Archives at for cost estimates and ordering. Researchers should be aware of specifics of copyright law and act accordingly.

Collection Inventory

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Appointment letter example, 1996.
Box 1 Folder 1
Center evaluation [Restricted until 2029], 2004.
Box 1 Folder 2
Clinical placement, 1995.
Box 1 Folder 3
Clinician educators, 1983-1997.
Box 1 Folder 4
Community Partnerships committee [Restricted until 2028], 2003.
Box 1 Folder 5
Doctoral program [Restricted until 2030], 2005.
Box 1 Folder 6
Faculty research, 1992-1994.
Box 1 Folder 7
Faculty retreat [Restricted until 2025], 2000 May 2.
Box 1 Folder 8
Faculty retreat [Restricted until 2029], 2004 October 21-22.
Box 1 Folder 9
Faculty Senate meeting [Restricted until 2031], 2006 January 9.
Box 1 Folder 10
Family and Community Health Division meeting [Restricted until 2031], 2005-2006.
Box 1 Folder 11
Graduate Curriculum Committee, 1991-1993.
Box 1 Folder 12
Graduate Group Committee, 1993-1997.
Box 1 Folder 13
Graduate Group Committee [Restricted until 2025], 1993-2000.
Box 1 Folder 14
Graduate Group Committee [Restricted until 2025], 1999-2000.
Box 1 Folder 15
Graduate Group in Social Welfare, 1988-1995.
Box 1 Folder 16
Grant research [Restricted until 2027], 2001-2002.
Box 1 Folder 17
Lecturer Clinical Specialist, job description, undated.
Box 1 Folder 18
Looking to the Future: Home Care Nurse Practitioners by Susan Beidler, undated.
Box 1 Folder 19
Long range plan through the year 2000, 1996 August 30.
Box 1 Folder 20
Masters Curriculum Committee, 1992.
Box 1 Folder 21
Masters curriculum retreat, 1994.
Box 1 Folder 22
Merger (psych mental health), 1996.
Box 1 Folder 23
Minor certificate, undated.
Box 1 Folder 24
Partnership Committee, 1984-1989.
Box 1 Folder 25
Partnership in Nursing for Education Practice Research proposal, 1984 April.
Box 1 Folder 26
Practice Committee, 1996-1997.
Box 1 Folder 27
Practice Committee [Restricted until 2025], 2000.
Box 1 Folder 28
Practice Committee [Restricted until 2029], 2002-2004.
Box 1 Folder 29
Practice Committee [Restricted until 2027], 2000-2002.
Box 1 Folder 30
Practice Committee [Restricted until 2029], 2003-2004.
Box 1 Folder 31
Preceptor Committee, 1995-1996.
Box 1 Folder 32
Research centers [Restricted until 2026], 1990-2001.
Box 1 Folder 33
Research protocols [Restricted until 2027], 2002.
Box 1 Folder 34
Salary survey, 1995.
Box 1 Folder 35
School of Nursing brochure, annotated, undated.
Box 1 Folder 36
Standing Faculty Retreat, 1995 February 17.
Box 1 Folder 37
Strategic Plan Benchmarks [Restricted until 2029], 2003-2004.
Box 1 Folder 38
Symposium, Nursing as a Force for Social Change, 1985 September 20-21.
Box 1 Folder 39
Task Force of Collaborative Education, 1992.
Box 1 Folder 40
Teaching Assistants [Restricted until 2029], 2000-2004.
Box 1 Folder 41
Teaching Home Care program, 1992-1993.
Box 1 Folder 42
Undergraduate Curriculum Committee, 1995-1996.
Box 2 Folder 1
Undergraduate Curriculum Committee, 1992-1994.
Box 2 Folder 2
Visiting Nurse Service of New York [Restricted until 2028], 2002-2003.
Box 2 Folder 3

LIFE (Living Independently For Elders), presentation, annotated, undated.
Box 2 Folder 4
LIFE, presentations, correspondence and notes, 1996-2004.
Box 2 Folder 5
LIFE, finance subcommittee, 2004-2005.
Box 2 Folder 6
LIFE, strategic reports, 2004-2005.
Box 2 Folder 7
History of Nursing Conference, 2000-2001.
Box 2 Folder 8
PACE (Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly), Penn's Pace Program, undated.
Box 2 Folder 9
PACE research and notes, undated.
Box 2 Folder 10
PACE program general framework, circa 1994-1995.
Box 2 Folder 11
PACE program presentations, 1996.
Box 2 Folder 12
PACE presentation and handouts, 1997.
Box 2 Folder 13
PACE model and replication presentation, 1999.
Box 2 Folder 14
PACE presentation, 2001.
Box 2 Folder 15
PACE Faces of PACE, videocassette, undated.
Box 2 Folder 16
PACE schematic design study (architectural drawings for PACE facility), 1997.
Box OS 1

N518:401 Nursing, Health, and Sickness in the United States, 1860-1965, 1987-1995.
Box 2 Folder 18
Home Care Concepts course correspondence, 1995.
Box 2 Folder 19
N368:550 Home Health Care Concepts, 1997.
Box 2 Folder 20
N340:341 Nursing in the Community, 1998.
Box 2 Folder 21
N368:550 Home Health Care Concepts, 2000.
Box 2 Folder 22
N368:401 Case Study Home Health Care, 2000.
Box 2 Folder 23
N518:401 Nursing, Health, and Sickness in the United States, 1860-1965, 2000-2003.
Box 2 Folder 24
N368:550 Home Health Care Concepts, 2001.
Box 2 Folder 25
N368:550 Home Health Care Concepts, 2001.
Box 2 Folder 26
N749 Historical and Theoretical Foundations of the Nation's Health, 2001-2003.
Box 3 Folder 27
N518:401 Nursing, Health, and Sickness in the United States, 1860-1965, 2002.
Box 2 Folder 28
N368:550 Home Health Care Concepts, 2002.
Box 2 Folder 29
HSSC 507:301 The Historiography of Medicine in the U.S., with an Emphasis on American Medical History, 2002.
Box 2 Folder 30
N368:550 Home Health Care Concepts, 2003.
Box 2 Folder 31
N368:550 Home Health Care Concepts, 2003.
Box 2 Folder 32
N368:550 Home Health Care Concepts, 2003.
Box 3 Folder 1
N518:401 Nursing, Health, and Sickness in the United States, 1860-1965, 2004.
Box 3 Folder 2
N518:401 Nursing, Health, and Sickness in the United States, 1860-1965, 2004.
Box 3 Folder 3
N518 Photo research, 2004.
Box 3 Folder 4
N518 Student papers [restricted], 2004.
Box 3 Folder 5
Student records [restricted], 1994, 2000, 2003-2004.
Box 3 Folder 6
AIDS / community based care, undated.
Box 3 Folder 8
Home care, undated.
Box 3 Folder 9
Visiting Nurse Service, undated.
Box 3 Folder 10
Lost lecture, undated.
Box 3 Folder 11
Nations health problems, undated.
Box 3 Folder 12
Home care lecture, undated.
Box 3 Folder 13
Beyond the hospital setting, undated.
Box 3 Folder 14
Home care today, undated.
Box 3 Folder 15
Home care the American way, undated.
Box 3 Folder 16
Psychiatric home care, undated.
Box 3 Folder 17
History of public health, 1985.
Box 3 Folder 18
Public health lecture, annotated, 1993.
Box 3 Folder 19
Occupational health history lecture, annotated with research, circa 1996.
Box 3 Folder 20
Themes / characteristics of 184 years of home care, 1997-1999.
Box 3 Folder 21
Home care, 2001.
Box 3 Folder 22
Home care, 2002.
Box 3 Folder 23
A century of practice, undated.
Box 3 Folder 24
Occupational health, undated.
Box 3 Folder 25
Home care, undated.
Box 3 Folder 26
A Correlation Study of Nursing Patient Classification, DRGs, Other Significant Patient Variables and Costs of Patient Care, 1984 November.
Box 3 Folder 27
Visiting Nurse programs, circa 1994-1995.
Box 3 Folder 26
Home care, 1995.
Box 3 Folder 29
Personal care and other readings, 2000.
Box 3 Folder 30
Home care and other readings, 2002.
Box 3 Folder 31
Home care and other readings, 2003.
Box 3 Folder 32
Home care and other readings, 2003.
Box 3 Folder 33

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